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PARIS, March 19. /TASS/. The construction of the Russian Orthodox Spiritual-Cultural Center in Paris has entered the final stage. On Saturday, the central dome was mounted on the Holy Trinity Cathedral, which is in the territory of the complex.
Russia’s delegation to the ceremony is led by head of the government’s staff, Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Prikhodko. The delegation also features the prime minister’s press secretary Natalia Timakova, Russia’s Ambassador to France Alexander Orlov, representatives of the Russian community in France, religious figures and official of the Paris municipal authorities. Head of the House of Romanov Prince Dimitry Romanovich arrived in Paris specially to attend the ceremony.
"Mounting of the dome marks beginning of the final stage in construction of the Russian center, which is a historic event," Prikhodko said. The construction went smoothly and ahead of the schedule. The construction began in 2014, he added.
"For a project of this scale and complexity, this is a record, of course," he said. "Today, the contractors, Bouygues, told us they would be ready to finalize the construction in August - even ahead of the planned time. This means, the center and the cathedral will be open for visitors in autumn already."
The interior decoration in the cathedral will begin after all the works are over, though the center will be already open for guests and prayers. This process may take "up to two years," he said. "The cathedral is made for centuries, and the decoration deserves very serious attitudes," the deputy prime minister said. The future center will be a part of the Russian embassy in France. "Thus, we are speaking about a piece of Russian land in central Paris," he added.
In conclusion, the Russian official said at the construction stage, the project "has not faced any problems of political character." He thanked the French authorities for support in implementation of the project. Jean-Marie Le Guen, Secretary of State for Parliamentary Relations, said earlier during a meeting with Prikhodko: "the speed of the construction is impressive. It is a true success. I believe, the center will be a model in all respects."
The height and diameter of the main dome of the Holy Trinity Cathedral are 12 meters each, and the weight is about eight tons. The dome is made fully of composite materials - to make it lighter - said Dominique Dubois of the Multiplast Company, which was responsible for the five domes’ structures.
He said the domes were made at an enterprise in western France and the biggest problem was to transport them safely to Paris, caring especially about the gild. "Everything was to be made maximum accurately, and we managed it," he said.
An orthodox cross was erected on Saturday on the dome. It was consecrated by Bishop Nestor of the Diocese of Korsun. The company, responsible for the cross erection, was Innovation Construction Management. Its director, Sergei Pogodin, told TASS they were the only Russian participants in the construction of the center. "The crosses have seven layers of gild."
The construction company’s head said the key task for the designers was "to make it so that the crosses are installed firmly on the dome’s composite materials." "For that, inside the domes were made special supportive constructions, designed especially for this project."
The Russian Orthodox spiritual and cultural center, constructed in central Paris, will become a link between Russia and France, France’s former Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine told TASS during the ceremony of mounting the central dome.
"No doubt, the spiritual-cultural center will be a link for all people in Paris, who care for culture," he said. "This is especially important at the times like today, were there are certain political disputes. We should support cultural ties between the peoples of our countries."
"In fact, there has not been a project of this architectural and cultural scale since the time of Jacques Chirac," the politician continued. "It is a very important project both for Paris and for all the French."
France’s former Minister of Culture Frederic Mitterrand told TASS "it is a wonderful project, and it is a very beautiful location chosen for the cathedral and the cultural center." He expressed confidence the new center "will attract many people living in Paris and will be interesting to all those willing to learn the Russian culture." "In heart, all the French are Russophiles, and despite the political disputes, this does not affect in any way the close relations between our countries," he said.
According to District 7 Mayor Rachida Dati, the authors of the project faced a difficult task to integrate the new building into the historical architectural landscape. The district boasts palaces, museums and the Eiffel Tower that are on the UNESECO’s World Heritage List.
The choice of the project took several years. In 2011, Spanish architect Manuel Nunez Yanowsky won the contest with his architectural model, but it did not satisfy the Paris Mayoral Office. City authorities thought the project as it was would be out of tune with the urban context.
The final option was approved in January 2014. It was designed by famous French architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte, renowned for restauration of the College de France in Paris’s Quartier Latin and the famous Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.
In his project, Wilmotte managed to harmonize traditions and modern trends.
Major French construction group Bouygues was tasked with construction work. Its head, Martin Bouygues, said it was "an honor to participate in such a major project of international importance". "We will exert every effort to see it become an absolute and undisputable success for Russia and France," the businessman pledged.
Burgundy limestone, which was also used in the construction of the Louvre and Notre Dame, was chosen for the historic project.
Construction is to be completed in summer 2016. "A new Orthodox church on the left bank of the Seine will be inaugurated this year," Russian Ambassador to France Alexander Orlov said.
The new center is intended to become yet another link between France and Russia. Symbolically, it will be located right next to Avenue Franco-Russe, which was called so a century ago to mark friendship between the two nations. Now this is a road to the Cathedral.